Woe is me
‘I went 7 days without complaining and it changed my life’. That’s the headline my sister sends me with the helpful aside: ‘you could literally never do this lol you scrooge’. I don’t think I would want to do that anyway, people like that, the sort of people who ram their relentlessly good vibes down your throat are all definitely repressed and their insipid, positive energy will one day prove their unravelling, I reply. ‘You’re literally just a jealous witch’ comes the quick sisterly response.
This hits a nerve. I do sometimes worry that with every passing day I sound increasingly like a grumbling geography teacher I once had: a sad, middle aged man who seemed to breathe exclusively in sighs. Maybe I am just a jealous witch (who really has little to be complaining about in the first place).
‘I could easily stop complaining for a week.’ I venture. ‘Doubtful’ comes Izzy’s reply. Never one to pass up a challenge I (foolishly) accept. Below I give you my iPhone notes from the day - all I managed - that followed, aka: my descent into madness. (Also, in the spirit of complaining about everything, I have transcribed the notes themselves, because they are unbearably blurry and I myself complained trying to read them).
27th Nov 2018
- Have not complained out loud yet today. It is still only morning. However, have definitely complained countless times in my head. Does this count? Feel like it’s very hard to monitor my thoughts!!! They normally escape before I have had time to self edit. Perhaps I will start writing down all my complaints that I think in my head. This could also be a near impossible exercise.
- Walked behind someone exceptionally slow into uni. Felt like every time I tried to skirt round her she would somehow start to gain speed?! I would never dream of complaining about this in person, but I worry that my complaining ban made me actually want to say something. Regardless, I didn’t. Definitely channelled unusual levels of annoyance to her via my thoughts though. Reminded myself that even though the rules on personal-thought-complaints are hazy, I should make an effort to reduce these too. Was 4 mins late to seminar. Blame slow woman and my new relaxed stance. Altogether not worthwhile.
- Wanted to complain to Mia about the fact that I was late for my seminar because of maddeningly slow woman. Stopped myself just in time. Side note: I don’t think this ‘slow woman’ anecdote is the sort of thing I would normally even bother relaying to Mia. Moany and uninteresting. Starting to worry that by not complaining I am harbouring excess rage in my brain which apparently renders me incapable of differentiating good stories from bad.
- I complain about the fact that Teviot is playing Christmas music when it is not yet December. I can’t help it! It just slips out!
- Izzy has just FaceTimed me to tell me that she has bought some new socks. They are that awful, fake fluffy material which make your feet really hot and sweaty. They also have Christmas puddings on them. Cannot work out if she is purposefully trying to antagonise me (she knows I am not allowed to complain) or if I am just going MAD from not being allowed to complain about things and that normally these socks wouldn’t bother me. I tell her she’s a fool because they won’t be good for her eczema and angrily hang up the phone.
- Forgot to add: on phone to Izzy we discussed the fact that Zayn Malik wrote all his album tracks LiKe ThIs. Definitely started out as a complaint but mid-way through I had a change of heart and decided that maybe it was actually a stroke of artistic genius? NoT sUrE!
- Mia remarks that the mugs handles in the coffee shop we are in are ridiculously small, making them hard to hold. The complaint is technically sparked by her, but I enthusiastically agree, as does George. Is it really a complaint if there is a total consensus that it’s correct? Does this then just become a fact? Food for thought. (I did make a snobby comment about the mugs being from H&M home, which in hindsight - and in the spirit of being a nicer person - I probably should have suppressed).
- First thing I say when I walk into the flat is ‘god it’s cold in here’. Is this a pointed remark/complaint, or just a fact? I cannot tell anymore.
- I’m reading back over these notes and realising that in writing them I am complaining about not being able to complain. This irony is not lost on me. I am going to try incredibly hard to be unfailing positive at dinner.
- ‘Why ON EARTH would Chez Jules have such ugly coloured Christmas lights up? The white light completely wrecks the ambience’ - Me, Maddy Fletcher, an absolutely unstoppable monster, about five minutes ago.
- Feel like this no complaining stuff (and the consequent realisation that not a moment goes by where I don’t bemoan something) is lending itself very nicely to self-loathing, which is surely just another form of complaining. I literally cannot win.
- Conversation at dinner turns to ‘flakes’ - a generational fiasco imo. My complaining cannot be harnessed! I feel too strongly about it! The floodgates open! I bang on for what feels like an eternity about how infuriating our generation’s inability to commit to plans is. I blame phones, social media, our incessant connection with one another. When our parents made lunch plans they weren’t able to cancel 5 minutes in advance because you couldn’t exactly send someone a letter/telegram/fax saying you were sorry for the short notice but you couldn’t make it (is telegram maybe a bit war time? Not sure. What did our parents use to communicate? Must ask Mum). Flaking is significantly worse than complaining. Better someone turn up to an event and just complain for its entire duration, than not turn up at all. I hate flakes. I hate them all.
- Have decided that this entire exercise is futile. Complaining is an integral aspect of my personality. I don’t think I can give it up. I also think, post flake-tirade, I clearly need to vent in small doses, otherwise I just end up ranting loudly to all of Chez Jules. From now on I will air my grievances - but for the sake of journalism record them on notes.
- Complained about the wind on the walk home from dinner. Had wanted to complain about it on the walk there but remembered I couldn’t. Feel liberated! Wind is the worst of the elements, I announce, I hate it more than rain.
- Someone mentions they once knew a girl who had a pet horse named Bear. This is absurd. Naming animals after other animals which they are not is weird. I say that it is like naming your daughter ‘Amphibian’. The joke is tenuous and frankly unfunny, but I get a laugh!! Starting to think that complaining can really be used as a force for good.
- When home we watched ‘The Princess Switch’ which, of course, leads to a slew of complaints: “this is just The Parent Trap gone wrong!” “Vanessa Hudgens’s English accent is infuriating.” “Why is he wearing such an ugly brown shirt when he knows he is proposing to her that afternoon?” (If I’ve spoiled the film for you I’m sorry but also not particularly sorry because it’s awful and if I’ve spared you from watching it then I’ve honestly done you a favour).
- Read these back and really appreciating just how much of a whirlwind today was. I am Moaning Myrtle, the Moan-er Lisa, Com-plain Jane. I don’t care anymore! I don’t care about anything! Except for the long list of irrelevant things I have complained about, and will continue to complain about, in the not so distant future.
- Maddy Fletcher